Even if you don’t know what Lent is or how it relates to Christianity, Jesus or Easter – most folks know that some people “give things up” for the duration of the Lenten season (which is 40 days, by the way – not including Sundays). I’m not an expert on theology or religion, but as an expert in mental health I will say that Lent is good for us. Whether you are religious or not, Lent is the perfect time to take a look at our lives and make some adjustments.
Here’s the deal: Most of us think about how we want to live healthier, more frugally, more whatever around the 1st of the year. We turn these vague notions about healthier living into New Year’s resolutions – even though we know they probably won’t stick. Do you even remember yours? New Year’s resolutions don’t typically work because:
- They are often too vague and general – i.e., “eat healthier” or “save more”
- There is no specific time frame – the entirety of 2014 is just too broad
- They are made on the heels of what is often the most indulgent time of the year – “You mean I can’t eat dessert after breakfast, lunch and dinner?” or “I really have to go back to work?” – The drastic change is just too much
But Lent gives us the perfect situation in which to make changes to our lives:
- The things we “give up” are typically really specific – i.e., soda pop, Facebook or frozen yogurt (yes, these are all things I have given up over the years)
- The 40+ day time frame is perfect for successful behavior change: It’s not so long that it drags out, but it is long enough to form new habits and routines
- It comes at a great time of year when there isn’t much else going on – not too many distractions
What are you giving up this year?